A Report on the Legislative Session of
January 30, 2017
I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This
e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week
of January 30, 2017.
If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website
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Pennsylvania Must Review Out-of-Control Drug Costs
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Monday, I announced that I am
reintroducing legislation calling for a thorough review of prescription drug
pricing in Pennsylvania.
Healthcare costs overall are out of control and pharmaceuticals are a big
part of that. Given the magnitude of the industry, there is a great need for
transparency and accountability. Therefore, I am reintroducing
Senate Bill 893 from last session that will establish the
Pharmaceutical Transparency Commission to review drug prices in Pennsylvania.
This legislation will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose information
about their pricing. It will also establish a commission comprised of government
officials and private sector representatives who will review the prices and
determine if they are reasonably priced in relation to the overall cost of
producing the drug.
Drug prices and the strident efforts of industry lobbyists to deflect
government scrutiny of the issue are nationwide problems that have garnered the
attention of the new Administration in Washington.
President Donald Trump recently said pharmaceutical companies are “getting
away with murder.” I could not agree more and I was encouraged by his
recognition of the arbitrary pricing tactics of Big Pharma and the resulting
skyrocketing drug costs across America. President Trump also said Big Pharma has
“a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.” This is something that is not only true
in Washington, but here in Pennsylvania. I have seen this first-hand over the
last few years as they continue to spend exorbitant amounts of money lobbying
for insurance coverage mandates for expensive and often times unproven drugs.
They have also repeatedly thwarted any attempts to require transparency in their
egregious pricing tactics that leave many Pennsylvanians unable to afford their
Escalating cost issues for cancer medications and lifesaving drugs, such as
epi-pens, as prime examples of a marketplace that is out-of-control and needs to
be reined in.
While Governor Wolf faces many challenges in the upcoming legislative
session, I hope he will make drug pricing and affordability a priority. This is
truly a bipartisan issue that will help all Pennsylvanians. I encourage all my
colleagues in the General Assembly to support this important piece of
legislation that will shed light on the pricing of the pharmaceutical industry
and will result in more reasonable and affordable prices for lifesaving drugs in
Child Abuse, Leaseholder Protection, Animal Cruelty
Bills Sent to House
The Senate this week approved bills eliminating the statute of limitations
for child sex abuse cases, increasing protections for natural gas leaseholders,
and strengthening criminal penalties for abusing horses.
Senate Bill 261, approved by the Senate on Wednesday, eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and
gives victims additional time to file civil actions against their abuser.
Currently, victims have until age 30 to file a civil claim. Senate Bill 261
would set the deadline at 50 years of age.
Two bills protecting natural gas leaseholders were approved by the Senate on
Senate Bill 138 gives royalty interest owners the opportunity to
inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment. It also requires
that proceeds from production of oil and gas be paid within 90 days unless
otherwise stated in the lease.
Senate Bill 139 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a
royalty owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development simply
because the landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved
Senate Bill 69, which addresses the enforcement
and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws as they pertain to horses.
All of the bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves “Reboot” of SR 60
On Tuesday, the Senate approved a measure to review Pennsylvania’s progress
in providing essential support to its volunteer fire departments and EMS
Senate Resolution 6 calls for a “reboot” of
Senate Resolution 60 of 2003, the comprehensive study of fire and
EMS issues completed in 2004. SR 6 calls for a new commission made up of
legislators, first responders and representatives from municipalities. The panel
would follow up on the impact of SR 60 and study issues currently affecting
first responders. The commission would then provide its recommendations to the
General Assembly by June 30, 2018.
APPROPRIATIONS Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 170 imposes comprehensive reform measures at the
Delaware River Port Authority.
Senate Bill 181 establishes a performance-based budget component.
Senate Bill 261 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex
STATE GOVERNMENT Committee approved four bills Tuesday.
Senate Bill 9 ensures that illegal immigrants residing in
Pennsylvania do not receive public benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and
Senate Bill 166 ensures that political campaign funds are not
collected by public sector unions through government-provided mechanisms funded
by taxpayer resources.
Senate Bill 167 calls for a Constitutional amendment ending the
practice of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money used for
Senate Bill 169 requires lobbyists to register and file reports
electronically with the Department of State and that information be posted on
the department’s website within seven days.
EDUCATION Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 227 gives school boards new options regarding
Senate Bill 229 eliminates mandated sick and bereavement leave
benefits and makes both subject to collective bargaining negotiations.
JUDICIARY Committee approved six bills this week.
Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and
forfeiture of property.
Senate Bill 146 requires the Department of Revenue to determine
whether lottery winners of $2,500 or more owe court-ordered obligations and to
deduct any amounts owed before paying out the prize.
Senate Bill 176 requires those investigating and reporting child
abuse or animal abuse cases to “cross-report” possible abuse cases.
Senate Bill 221 prohibits the sale of over-the-counter cough
medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors.
Senate Bill 222 adds court of common pleas judges in several
counties across the state.
Senate Bill 261 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex
Game & Fisheries
& FISHERIES Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 30 gives the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission the
authority to set fees for licenses.
Senate Bill 123 adds falconry to the list of exemptions for Sunday
Senate Bill 192 gives the Game Commission the authority to set fees
for hunting and fur-taking licenses.
Labor & Industry
LABOR & INDUSTRY Committee approved
Senate Bill 241 on Wednesday. The bill prohibits sexual
discrimination in employee pay rates.